China touts Gulf states’ support for Uyghur treatment

China says it has gained support on issues including its treatment of Uighur Muslims after foreign ministers from some Persian Gulf countries held talks and agreed to upgrade ties

BEIJING — China said on Friday that it had gained support on issues including the treatment of Uighur Muslims in some Persian Gulf countries after foreign ministers’ talks in which they agreed to escalate ties.

They “expressed their opposition to interference in China’s internal affairs and politicization of human rights issues,” he said. They also refused to “politicize sports, and reiterated their support” for China to host the Beijing Winter Olympics, which start on February 4, he said.

China is accused of detaining more than a million Turkic Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region as part of a campaign to wipe out their traditional culture, language and beliefs. It claims Taiwan is a wayward province that will be controlled by force if necessary.

At the same time, China and the GCC agreed to establish a strategic partnership, complete free trade agreement negotiations “as soon as possible”, hold a China-GCC strategic dialogue and sign a 2022-2025 action plan, “to elevate bilateral relations to a new level, ” said Wang.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China “firmly supports the GCC countries in safeguarding national independence, security and stability, and will continue to oppose foreign interference in the internal affairs of the GCC countries in the name of human rights”.

China also pledged to support the GCC countries in establishing a multilateral dialogue mechanism to explore “the way the Middle East resolves regional conflicts and disputes, and advocates that non-regional countries should play a constructive role in this regard,” he said.

The visit comes as world powers, including China, try to revive the tattered 2015 Iran nuclear deal in Vienna.

Other participants included the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdullahian will also arrive in China this weekend. It is unclear whether he attended the meeting with others, nor did Wang mention him in his comments.

China and the United States are increasingly vying for influence in the Middle East, where Chinese companies find markets for goods and services ranging from highways to military drones. China’s economy is heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil and gas, and Beijing also maintains close ties with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and disputes with other Gulf states.